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How Do You Tell a “Weasel” From a “Fraggle”? Developing an explanatory model of differential gang membership: A grounded theoretical approach

James, Mark (2015) How Do You Tell a “Weasel” From a “Fraggle”? Developing an explanatory model of differential gang membership: A grounded theoretical approach. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:47983)

Language: English
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Once labelled as a “gang member”, young people may be subject to gang stereotypes, losing their individuality. However, gang membership is varied, with (at the most basic level) a distinction between Core (i.e. those forming a deep commitment to their gang) and Fringe gang members (i.e. those tending to drift in and out of gang membership). To date, multiple theories have attempted to explain why some people join gangs and others do not. However, no dedicated theory has attempted to explain why some gang members become Cores while others become Fringes. The research described in this thesis set out to uncover (psychological, sociological, and criminological) differences between Core and Fringe gang members, and devise a theoretical framework capable of explaining varied gang commitment. Interview data from 20 incarcerated Core and Fringe gang members were subject to Grounded Theory analysis (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). The key difference between Cores and Fringes was their exposure to pro-social peers – all described membership of pro- and anti-social/gang peer groups, however, Cores ultimately reject pro-social peers in favour of anti-social/gang peers, while Fringes actively maintain commitment to both. This effect was influenced by perceived differences in: stability of family structure and bonds; success or failure in mainstream education; the experience and expression of emotional reactions and empathy; early-years transience and the perception of social neglect; locus of control and blame attribution; and, impression management via social comparison processes. Reactions to disappointment determined whether Fringes’ commitment to pro- or anti-social peers was the more salient at any given time. Cores’ commitment to gang/anti-social peers was primarily motivated by a desire for excitement, material status, and/or social status. Fringes’ fluid commitment to pro-social and gang/anti-social peers was motivated by a desire for acceptance, (emotional) support, and role-models. Implications for gang risk assessment, prevention, and intervention are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Wood, Jane
Uncontrolled keywords: Gangs Core vs. Fringe Grounded Theory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2015 15:00 UTC
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2021 11:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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